Playing an NCAA sanctioned sport is a privilege and an honor. It is not an entitlement to any of the best athletes in amateur sports, no matter what the sport.
Last years Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny Manziel is now under investigation by the NCAA for what is defined as possibly receiving an “improper financial benefit” based upon their athletic ability.
Few would dispute that Manziel, the first college freshman player to win the Heisman Trophy is an elite level athlete. Manziel is playing college football on a full athletic scholarship for Texas A & M University. Not every athlete gets that experience, in hockey it is even more rare for a player to get four full years of an education for free.
At issue is an accusation that Manziel may have received payment in cash or check for signing photos and/or other memorabilia for a business operator that would then sell them as limited edition autographed items. Manziel would allegedly receive a set fee, and the business owner would then try to profit on his investment.
The problem is that if Johnny Manziel was not an athlete who had just won the Heisman Trophy, those alleged items would be worthless. In fact, if not for his athletic ability he would not have had an opportunity to allegedly get paid for his signature.
Getting paid to sign something is no different from getting a discount to play Tier III junior hockey. If you receive any financial benefit because of your athletic ability you are likely in violation of the NCAA’s policy on improper financial benefits. Taking a discount to play Tier III is effectively accepting a cash payment to play hockey, this makes you a professional player and not an amateur.
Think you wont get caught? I am sure Manziel, if the allegation is proven true, thought he wouldn’t get caught either. Then again, the accused acts took place nearly eight months ago with the Heisman Trophy winner.
Such a high-profile athlete and it took eight months? You might say to yourself that its worth taking the risk since you may not be that high-profile athlete.
The question fo ask yourself, is whether saving a few thousand dollars this year is worth getting caught later and having to pay thirty or forty thousand dollars a year to go to college later? Is it worth risking all of your amateur status? Are the short-term financial gains worth the long-term financial risks?
An education lasts a lifetime, hockey does not. Why risk a lifetime?
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher